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Failing to qualify for continental football of any kind for the first time in three seasons means the 2021-22 season has failed to live up to expectations for Leicester, despite their run to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League.
A run of five Premier League games without a win over the last several weeks looked to have set the Foxes up for a poor bottom-half finish in the table, but a mini revival in their last three outings looks to have secured a top-half place.
Brendan Rodgers‘ side head into the final day in ninth place following their 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Thursday evening, with the point lifting them above Brighton & Hove Albion.
James Maddison‘s long-range strike had given the visitors the lead at Stamford Bridge just six minutes into the game, but after Marcos Alonso equalised before the break, it was backs to the wall for much of the encounter.
Leicester only mustered one other shot of any kind during the game, but a defensively resolute display was enough to seal an impressive result at the Blues.
The performance of Maddison was the standout positive though, who extended his fine form with his third goal in as many games, as the 25-year-old looks to have returned to his best in the closing stages of the season.
Sunday’s hosts may not have any continental qualification to play for on the final day, but with the potential of climbing one place or dropping as many as two, the difference in prize money could prove significant ahead of the summer transfer window, so Rodgers will be looking for his side to finish on a high note for sure.
However, Takumi Minamino fired in against his former club to haul Jurgen Klopp’s side level, and from this moment, a second-string Liverpool side took the game to Southampton and dominated proceedings.
Joel Matip’s stooping header midway through the second half condemned Hasenhuttl’s men to a 2-1 defeat, thus extending their poor conclusion to the season.
Like their hosts, league position is all that is left to play for at the King Power Stadium, although Southampton are unable to climb any higher, and may only drop one position at most depending on Everton’s result at Arsenal.
After missing out in midweek at Chelsea, it is hoped that Youri Tielemans and James Justin can recover to return to Leicester’s starting lineup on Sunday.
The latter was unavailable due to illness, whilst the Belgian was forced to sit out due to a clash of knees incurred in the previous game at Watford, and should he return, it could well be his last game for the Foxes, with plenty of speculation linking Tielemans with an exit in the summer.
Wilfred Ndidi will definitely miss out due to his ongoing knee problem, whilst Ryan Bertrand’s season has been over for some time following a host of injury issues.
As for the visitors, Hassenhuttl has confirmed that Fraser Forster will be unavailable once again on Sunday, after the goalkeeper missed out against Liverpool due to a back problem.
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Alex McCarthy will therefore continue in goal, but the Saints are likely to revert back to a more familiar 4-4-2 setup after opting for a more defensive setup against the title challengers last time out.
Full-back duo Romain Perraud and Valentino Livramento will also sit out of the final game, with the pair having their seasons ended prematurely in recent weeks.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin; Mendy; Maddison, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall, Barnes; Vardy
Southampton possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Valery, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Redmond, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, S Armstrong; Broja, Adams